30th January 2006. 10:41.
A desk on a floor in Ashdown House, Victoria that closely resembles a call centre.
So, here we are then. Iâve decided to start a blog. Why am I starting a blog when I should be working and trying to crack the impenetrable issues around the inclusion of aviation into the EU Emissions Trading Scheme? Well, Iâve been feeling a certain malaise that I believe afflicts all twenty-somethings of my generation. A feeling that despite the affluence, stability and material possessions, something is not quite right.
I work in a job that people would die for, tackling one of the biggest challenges to mankind. Iâm paid well and live in a nice flat in the heart of Balham. I have a beautiful girlfriend who understands me and doesnât nag. I have a wonderful family who support and inspire me. I drive a nice car, have at least one weekâs holiday a year, usually in an exotic destination. Iâm fit and healthy, despite my regular socialising. But somethingâs not quite right in my soul.
Iâm bored of the routine and the feeling that Iâm somehow trapped in a giant maze, running around scrabbling towards some ill-defined goal. Maybe itâs just what happens when you hit the stage of life between formal education, with all its goals and pathways, and parenthood with its responsibility and selflessness, but I feel that life should be about more than the day-to-day grind, the relentless pursuit of a career (Iâve never understood why we call it that, is it because we spend most of it careering around?).
So, anyway, I guess this is all a long-winded way (years of civil service training is hard to overcome) of saying that Iâve decided to take control of my life and do something different.
Ever since I first strapped on a piece of wood to my feet and slid in a most ungainly manner down the slightest ofâ¦ actually thatâs a lie. I didnât really enjoy snowboarding when I first tried it. Sure it was good fun, something a bit different, but I lived in fear of another face-plant or coxyx shattering impact. It wasnât really until my second week of boarding, when it suddenly came together and I felt in flow that I caught the bug. The combination of mountains, snow and a basic form of transport powered only be natural forces was quite hypnotic. I love the almost meditative qualities of a focussed run, the feel of crisp snow beneath your feet, the rush of air past your freezing ears and the rosy glow that the biting wind leaves on your cheeks. So for one week a year (sometimes more), Iâve found my way out and a way to escape the drudgery of city life.
But one week has never seemed enough, just as I begin to feel in tune with it, itâs whipped away and replaced with an early morning, hungover crawl to the airport, sweating alcohol in a tin can that lands in the inevitably grey London skies. So Iâve decided to do a season, not just any old season mind you. I need a bit of structure and a way to improve, so Iâve opted to train as a snowboard instructor, an ideal way to combine my love of snowboarding with my love of sharing skills with other people. Oh, and itâs in New Zealand (Wanaka to be precise), for 3 months.
What am I hoping to get out of it? Space. Time. Freedom to think about what actually matters to me, about how Iâd like to be remembered and about what the hell to do with myself and the precious gift of life. Challenge, a change, a sense of liberation and a feeling that I can take control of my life, that itâs not just about stepping over others in a desperate bid for recognition and promotion.
Itâs not been an easy decision and it wonât be an easy 3 months. Iâm moving to the total opposite side of the world from the love of my life, away from my friends, family and social circle. Iâm leaving a great job. And Iâm terrified, that Iâm not good enough, that Iâm not enough of an extreme thrill seeker, that Iâll hurt myself, that I wonât enjoy it. But itâs something I feel like I need to do. If it goes wrong, Iâll handle it somehow – thatâs partly why I want to do it, it feels like a risk, a leap of faith (OK, itâs only 3 months in another country, but itâs a psychological thing). I keep thinking about looking back on this and how I want to view this point in my life. And one thing keeps running through my head, the last stanza in my favourite poem:
âI shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I â
I took the one less travelled by.
And that has made all the difference.â
Thanks Bob, thatâll keep me going.